Traveling to Sapa or conquering the peak of Fansipan – the highest mountain in Vietnam with an elevation of 3143m has long been familiar to adventure enthusiasts and those who are passionate about exploration and self-challenge. Let’s discover this incredibly unique and beautiful destination through the following article with VnCarRentals.Com’s.
Introduction to Fansipan Mountain
Fansipan, also known by other names phonetically transliterated into Vietnamese such as Phan-xi-păng or Phan Si Păng, is the highest mountain in Vietnam, located in the Hoàng Liên Sơn mountain range in the Northwestern region of Vietnam. It is nicknamed the “Roof of Indochina” as it is the highest point in all three countries: Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Despite its elevation of over 3000m above sea level, this mountain is only about 9km southwest of the town center of Sapa. Here, there is a rich variety of vegetation with 1680 species of plants, including some rare and valuable ones.
Geographical Location and Travel Guide to Fansipan
The summit of Fansipan is located on the border between Lai Chau province and Lao Cai province, stretching over 280km from Phong Tho to Hoa Binh in length, and the widest point is 75km, narrowing to 45km. It includes three mountain masses: Bach Moc Luong Tu, Fansipan, and Pu Luong. With an elevation of 3143m, any mode of transportation used to get here will provide you with unforgettable experiences.
Today, with the advancement of engineering and road construction, accessing this majestic mountain is no longer as challenging and seemingly impossible as before. To reach the summit of Fansipan, travelers have several transportation options.
Moving to Sapa from Hanoi
To conquer the summit of Fansipan, you first need to get to Sapa from Hanoi, and there are several options available:
- Sleeper buses: If you choose to take a sleeper bus, the prices typically range from 230,000 to 280,000 VND per person, one way. Buses depart from My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi, and the journey to Sapa takes approximately 7-8 hours. You can contact various bus companies such as Sao Viet, Hung Thanh, etc.
- Private car rental: Opting for a private car with a driver from Hanoi to Sapa, provided by VnCarRentals.com, ensures a safe and comfortable journey. With a professional driver who has basic English skills and years of experience, you will be picked up from anywhere in Hanoi. The flexibility of departure times and the ability to make stops along the way make this a convenient option. We hope that our private car rental service in Hanoi will provide you with an excellent trip to Sapa.
- Train: For those who prefer traveling by train, there are various seat options available, including soft seats, hard seats, and air-conditioned sleeper beds. Trains typically depart from Hanoi around 21-22:00 and arrive at Lao Cai Station the following morning. The ticket prices vary depending on the class of seating. After arriving at Lao Cai Station, you will need to take a bus to reach the town of Sapa.
- Limousine van: Limousine vans are a relatively popular choice, offering a range of amenities, making them suitable for traveling with friends or family. Prices for limousine van services range from approximately 350,000 to 450,000 VND per person.
Travel to Fansipan by Cable Car
One of the most popular, quickest, and time-saving options chosen by many domestic and international tourists when planning a trip here is to use the Fansipan cable car system – Sun World Fansipan Legend.
This cable car route was put into operation in 2016 after two years of construction and testing, requiring a great deal of effort and materials. Although relatively new, this cable car route has already earned two Guinness World Records: the longest three-rope cable car system in the world and the largest elevation difference between stations in a three-rope cable car system in the world.
With a journey of just over an hour, this is an excellent choice for families with elderly members, children, or young people with weaker physical health and no mountain climbing experience, as well as those who need to adapt to the harsh mountain climate.
How to Buy Fansipan Cable Car Tickets
Today, tourists visiting Sapa can easily purchase cable car tickets to explore Fansipan at the reception of their hotels or homestays.
Even in homestays, the hosts are usually willing to help guests purchase tickets to get there. This way, tourists do not have to spend too much time searching for ticket vendors or worrying about overpaying.
There is another option for those who want to buy tickets directly from the official ticket office, which is to buy tickets at Sun Plaza Hotel, located in the center of Sapa town. This location is also a stop for many buses coming from other cities to Sapa.
Of course, there are many discounts available to guests who choose this method, including coupons for discounts at restaurants within the Fansipan Legend complex. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
You can find more details about the article on Fansipan cable car prices updated by VnCarRentals.com: Cable Car Ticket Prices for Fansipan Sapa 2023 Latest Promotion Information.
Getting to Sapa Cable Car Station
The Fansipan Legend cable car station, which leads to the summit, is only a 5-minute walk from the center of Sapa town, making it easily accessible for guests staying in the town center.
In addition to walking along the Xuân Viên street and the Sapa Tourism Promotion Information Center to reach the station, tourists can also choose other methods to get to the station and catch the cable car, such as:
- Taking a bus: You can take bus route number 05, which runs from the Stone Church in Sapa to the Fansipan Legend cable car station and vice versa. The bus route takes 30 minutes per trip and passes through the following streets: Thach Son Street, Dien Bien Phu Street, National Highway 4D, Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, and the cable car station. With this option, even if you are not in the town center, you can easily reach the station at an incredibly affordable price of only 10,000 VND per ticket.
- Taking the train: Since 2018, when the Mường Hoa mountain train line operated by SunWorld Fansipan Legend was put into service, tourists have had a unique and convenient way to reach the Fansipan cable car station.
- Starting from the train station located next to the MGallery Sofitel Hotel in the center of Sapa town, it takes just 6 minutes to reach the cable car station. Although this train ride is slightly more expensive than other modes of transportation (200,000 VND/adult/round trip; 150,000 VND/child/round trip), it remains a favored choice for many domestic and international tourists looking for an easy way to reach the summit of Fansipan.
- Not only is the train convenient, but another significant reason that appeals to travelers is its design, created by the skilled hands of two Swiss architects. Switzerland is renowned for its scenic mountain train tours in the majestic Alps, so the train, train cars, and train station all reflect a strong European classical architectural style.
- Sitting on the train departing from the Mường Hoa station to the Fansipan station, you will feel as if you have stepped onto a time machine, back to the backdrop of the Harry Potter film or floating among the clouds and the beautiful natural scenery of the mountains, the Cat Cat village with its terraced rice fields, as the train slowly passes through. So, what are you waiting for? Book a trip to Fansipan to discover these unique experiences!
Traveling to Fansipan by Mountain Climbing
This is a popular, traditional method and is highly favored by mountain climbing enthusiasts because conquering this high peak is no easy feat.
However, on the journey to conquer this peak, if you are not adequately prepared with knowledge and experience, you may have to give up early. Therefore, VnCarRentals.Com will provide you with some information and tips about the mountain climbing journey here.
Mountain Climbing to Fansipan through Tours
If you lack experience or are not a professional mountain climber, booking tours to Fansipan for 3 days and 2 nights or 2 days and 1 night can be a good option to ensure your safety and that of your companions.
When you book a tour, you will be well-prepared with transportation, itinerary information, the route, mountain accommodations, as well as food and drinks throughout the journey to conquer this mountain with an elevation of over 3000m.
Mountain Climbing to Fansipan Independently
For some groups of young people who may have some mountain climbing or overnight camping experience in the wilderness, they may want to undertake the mountain climbing journey independently rather than through a tour.
Although this option offers more freedom and flexibility in terms of time and route, it also carries more risks. Therefore, VnCarRentals.Com recommends that you still consider climbing the mountain via the well-established route that many experienced mountaineers have explored and that is favored by many tour companies.
That route begins from Tram Ton Station. Tram Ton Station is located at an elevation of 1900m above sea level and has roads built for cars to reach this point.
Therefore, even though it is referred to as climbing to the summit of Fansipan, you won’t actually have to walk the entire long distance to reach the elevation of 3143m above sea level. You’ll only climb about half of the distance, and when you are about 300m away from the summit, you’ll see the Fansipan summit milestone with the Vietnamese flag flying proudly atop it, which is enough for you to check in and say that you’ve completed a challenging mountain climbing journey.
But don’t just focus on climbing to the summit for taking photos. With such an elevation, the climate changes as you ascend, creating conditions for various rich vegetation to thrive here. Therefore, during your journey to the mountain’s summit, take a moment to rest and admire the changing landscapes, from dense pristine forests to vast fields of rhododendron flowers.
What to Bring for a Self-Guided Trip to Fansipan?
To make your journey to the Fansipan summit more convenient and cost-effective, VnCarRentals.Com will provide you with a list of what to bring.
You should bring your identification card, passport, or birth certificate to use when purchasing cable car tickets to get a discount based on your household registration/nationality.
Bring some snacks, drinks, or your favorite food to avoid getting hungry or thirsty because food on the mountain is usually quite expensive.
You should not carry too much bulky luggage because the management will not allow you to bring too much into the cabin.
Clothing is a top consideration; you should choose neat and moisture-wicking clothes for hiking, which you can easily take off when it gets too hot. Regardless of the time of year, you should also bring gloves, a scarf, and a warm hat because the temperature on the mountain can drop significantly.
While conquering the Fansipan summit, remember to pace yourself. Rest while you walk, don’t push yourself too hard because the distance between steps is quite high and steep. As you ascend, the air becomes thinner, so you should take your time; otherwise, you may experience low blood pressure and difficulty breathing.
Exciting Experiences at Fansipan You Shouldn’t Miss
In Sapa in general, and the Fansipan summit in particular, the rugged high mountain terrain does not diminish the natural beauty that Mother Nature has bestowed upon this place, and all four seasons here have their unique charm.
However, there are still standout seasons with their own distinct beauty, namely the rhododendron blossom season and the ripe golden rice season, which are beloved by many tourists when they visit.
Rhododendron Blossom Season
With its characteristic cool and fresh mountainous climate, this area is an ideal environment for the growth of rhododendron flowers, which thrive in temperate climates.
In the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, there are more than 50 different varieties of rhododendron flowers that bloom in a riot of colors throughout the year. However, the prime time for rhododendron blossoms is from February to April of each lunar year, which corresponds to the spring season.
If you can book a mountain climbing tour during this time, the sight of rhododendron fields in full bloom, blending with the stunning natural landscapes, will make you forget all the fatigue of the climb to the summit.
Ripe Golden Rice Season
Surely, none of us are unfamiliar with the unique image of terraced rice fields in the mountainous villages instead of the vast, flat rice fields in the plains. Similar to the lowlands, the ripe rice season here falls in the autumn, from late September to November each year.
If you’re unsure about when to conquer Fansipan Peak during the year, you can refer to the following article: “When should I travel to Sapa, which month, and for how many days?“
Unique Places at the Summit of Fansipan
After checking in at the Fansipan flagpole and satisfying your sightseeing desires, don’t forget to explore the surroundings of Sun World Fansipan Legend. This place is vast and offers many fascinating things to see.
Thanh Van Dac Lo (Sapa Gate to the Sky)
Right after leaving the Fansipan station (if you take the cable car up), you will see the path leading to this area.
This is a spiritual area. For those who follow Buddhism, it is not just a place for sightseeing but also a place for meditation. It features traditional stone pillars made of green stone, and these pillars are carved from a single piece of stone, making their transportation to this location incredibly laborious and challenging.
Furthermore, this area’s architectural design is unique, as it replicates the architectural style of Lý Dynasty temples. Standing here and looking around, you’ll feel the vastness of the land and the insignificance of humans.
If you look down, you’ll see a vast sea of clouds and deep abysses below, interspersed with the abundant greenery of the pristine forests of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range.
Great Buddha Statue
The entire cable car system, the mountain railway, and the architectural complex of SunWorld Fansipan Legend are incredibly special. Perhaps, no artificial structure in Vietnam has received as many world records as this complex, and the Great Buddha Statue here is no exception.
This Buddha statue has received two world records from both domestic and Asian record-keeping organizations for being the highest Buddha statue in Vietnam and Asia.
The Great Buddha Statue stands at a height of 21.5 meters and is cast from countless bronze plates with a steel frame to withstand the harsh winds and climate at the summit of Fansipan.
The statue’s body is intricately carved with artistic motifs from the Tran Dynasty. Moreover, recently, when visiting inside the statue, tourists can also see the Jade Amitabha Buddha presented by the Vĩnh Nghiêm Monastery in Myanmar.
This is considered a precious Buddhist relic, residing in this place of natural and spiritual energy, making the relic shine even brighter and more valuable.
Vong Linh Cao Dai – Dai Hong Chung
This is a point of interest you shouldn’t miss when visiting the Fansipan tourist area, known as Vong Linh Cao Dai or often referred to as Dai Hong Chung. It is located prominently on the main axis of Bích Vân Thiền Tự. This is a vertical structure with 8 stories, and each floor hosts a pavilion with 5 majestic tiers, situated right at the square of the Fansipan cable car station.
Bich Van Meditation Pagoda
As part of the Fansipan spiritual tourism complex, this will be the first temple you encounter after leaving Fansipan station.
The pagoda is located at an elevation of 3037 meters, close to the summit of Fansipan. It is built entirely in the style of Tran Dynasty and traditional Vietnamese architecture, featuring a 3-bay, 2-beam house with a curved dragon roof and architectural elements such as Tam Quan (three-entrance gate), Ancestor Altar, Mother Altar, and more.
Symmetrically on both sides of Bich Van Meditation Pagoda, you’ll find the Thanh Tran Temple and Tam Thanh Goddess Temple, also built in the artistic style of the Tran Dynasty.
This architectural structure is located between 150 stone steps leading up to the highest statue of Amitabha Buddha in Vietnam. The tower stands at a height of 30 meters and features engraved Buddha sutras inside. It is a place where Buddhists and tourists can pray for peace and well-being for themselves and their families.
The sound of flowing water combined with the resonating sounds of prayer inside the pagoda and the sea of clouds atop Fansipan will bring inner peace to visitors when they come here.
In addition to the aforementioned structures, along the 600 steps from Fansipan station to the summit, visitors will also see various spiritual and cultural landmarks such as the statue of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, the Bell Tower, Kim Son Bao Thang Pagoda, the La Han Path, and more.
However, instead of just enjoying the cool autumn weather like when participating in tours to admire terraced rice fields or paragliding festivals in Yen Bai, coming to Sapa or the Fansipan summit allows you to experience the weather of all four seasons in a year while fully taking in the breathtaking masterpiece of nature, a scene that is difficult to put into words.
It’s a painting that combines the golden hues of ripe rice fields with the deep green of the Hoang Lien Son mountain forest, along with the vast, clear blue sky.
Enjoying the Four-Season Festivals
Don’t think that there are no festivals on this rugged mountaintop. In fact, Fansipan hosts lively and enticing festivals throughout the four seasons, attracting visitors from all over the country. These festivals cleverly combine the culture of the Northwest, providing tourists with immersive and delightful experiences.
During these festival atmospheres, you can not only witness impressive performances but also see images of young men and women in colorful costumes dancing, playing traditional musical instruments, or simply savoring the local specialties of the Northwestern region that are sold within the festival grounds.
Tips for Traveling and Hiking to the Summit of Fansipan
Whether you’re going on a tour or traveling independently to the high-altitude terrain of Sapa, there are several points to keep in mind:
- Firstly, regarding packing for your visit to the Fansipan summit, it’s advisable to prepare light snacks and ample beverages in advance. Finding accommodation, rest stops, or food on the mountain can be difficult, and even if available, the prices might be quite high. Therefore, pre-planning is recommended.
- The temperature on the mountain can vary significantly from lower altitudes, so it’s essential to dress warmly and carry lightweight thermal clothing. Bulky luggage can be an impediment and compromise safety while exploring this astonishingly high peak.
- Next, hiking can provide beautiful memories and unforgettable experiences for travelers. However, to prevent your meaningful journey from turning into a disaster, it’s essential to check the weather conditions in the region before booking your tour. Due to the high mountain terrain, the weather in Sapa can be unpredictable and differ significantly from lowland areas. Therefore, to ensure you’re well-informed about Sapa’s weather, consult the 10-day weather forecast and seek advice from tour guides (if you’re on a guided tour) or from friends and family with experience in traveling to Sapa.
- Footwear is also worth noting when traveling in Sapa. Many women who appreciate fashion tend to bring high heels to take stylish photos while traveling. However, given the challenging and sometimes mountainous terrain in Sapa, it’s best to pack durable, lightweight, dark-colored sports shoes for comfort and safety. High heels can be kept in your luggage and worn only for photoshoots.
- Lastly, to avoid overpricing during peak travel seasons in Sapa, it’s advisable to book tours, buy bus tickets, and reserve hotel rooms in advance if you plan to travel during extended holiday periods. Be cautious of last-minute, seemingly “too good to be true” deals advertised on Facebook, as they may be scams. It’s best to make reservations through reputable websites.
Popular Accommodations in Sapa Town – Fansipan Summit
Pistachio Hotel Sapa
- Address: No. 29, Group 5, Thac Bac Street, Sapa Ward, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province.
- Phone: 0943 333 333
Situated not far from Sapa Town, Pistachio Hotel Sapa leaves a strong impression on travelers with its unique blend of highland ethnic cultures and contemporary European architectural styles. The entire hotel area emerges amidst the misty city like a tropical oasis, high in the mountains, making it feel like you’re entering a dreamland. Come to Sapa and Pistachio Hotel to experience this one-of-a-kind feeling.
Amazing Hotel Sapa
- Address: Dong Loi Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province.
- Phone: 025 7777 7777
Another 4-star hotel located on a main road in Lao Cai Town. With its prime location, guests can easily explore the surrounding areas of Sapa Town, including beautiful valleys and nearby villages. At Amazing Hotel Sapa, you’ll experience top-notch international service at an affordable price. Plus, all the rooms are designed with large windows, allowing guests to fully enjoy the picturesque scenery outside.
Eden Boutique Hotel Sapa
- Address: 03B, Thac Bac Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province.
- Phone: 0943 333 333
Although not as grand with a vast array of rooms as the two hotels mentioned earlier, Eden Boutique Hotel Sapa is still a noteworthy option for travelers visiting Sapa. Despite its small size, Sapa Eden is in a prime location right in the center of Sapa Town, making it convenient for guests to explore the area without the need for costly rentals or taxis. The cozy rooms here blend classic and modern styles, adorned with mixed wall paintings, creating a colorful space akin to an art exhibition waiting for guests to experience.
Through the provided information, VnCarRentals.Com’s hopes to have provided you with valuable insights to help you plan your upcoming trip to Sapa with your family and friends. We wish you a joyful, relaxing, and safe journey to the “misty city” – Fansipan.